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Lucy Guo

Lucy Guo

In an exclusive interview, we had the opportunity to sit down with the incredibly accomplished Lucy Guo, co-founder of Scale AI (a software company), that landed her on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list at just 23 years old. She has since developed a venture capital firm, Backend Capital, and most recently pioneered Passes, a platform tailored to creators.

As her Instagram handle reads, @guoforit, Lucy Guo takes the phrase to heart. Ambitious, driven, and inspired, Guo is the epitome of self-made.

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You have pioneered as a woman in tech by founding/co-founding three companies: Scale AI, Backend Capital, and Passes. Who are people in your life who have inspired you and pushed you to go where not many women have gone before? How?

I think you're the average of the people you surround yourself with, and I would attribute my ambition to those I met during the Thiel Fellowship. [The Thiel Fellowship gives $100,000 to young people who want to build new things instead of sitting in a classroom. ] From an early age, I met people who had the ambition to build unicorns. All these kids took the non-traditional path to achieve their dreams. Before that, it was genuinely a desire to prove people wrong. From an IQ standpoint, my brother is much smarter than me, so I was always looked aside. Growing up, I felt like no one believed in me, and I wanted to prove everyone wrong.

Lucy Guo

Tech, and more broadly ‘STEM’, is notoriously a male-dominated field. How would you describe your experience as a woman in STEM and what are some ways that you have brought positive change?

Being a woman in STEM has its pros and cons. There are definitely double standards. I remember back when I got my internship at Facebook, I had people making up rumors that I slept my way into the internship (I've never done more than kiss anyone in my life). I had a Thiel fellow tell me to my face that I got the internship because I'm a girl. As my resume continued to grow through side projects and industry experience, the narrative started to flip. Everyone wants diversity, but I believe subconsciously, the bar is higher for women. It was only until I had become one of Product Hunt's biggest makers (I actually got maker of the year) and worked at Snap that people were willing to fund me. They say data shows venture deals into female-founded companies return better and if this is true, I believe it's because their mental bar for women is higher. But once a woman can hit that bar, fundraising becomes easier. I volunteer a lot of my time to speaking at universities, hackathons, etc. to try and inspire people in STEM.

Tell us more about your new platform ‘Passes’, a company that centralizes resources for entrepreneurial-minded creators. What sparked the inspiration for ‘Passes’?

I view creators as small businesses and want them to turn into large businesses. I have always encouraged people to become entrepreneurs. Most of my friends are creators, and it drove me crazy seeing how predatory the industry is. The first step is fan engagement because in order to become a business, you need true fans that are willing to spend money on you. So we created salesforce for creators. We have a lot more interesting products coming out - from more revenue streams such as brand deals to fintech products for creators.

How do you envision the future for influencers, especially in the fashion realm? What role will ‘Passes’ play?

Fashion is one of the largest niches in the creator world. We already saw this with "outfit of the day". We're actually actively recruiting creators to do outfit looks, makeup tutorials, and more on Passes. We offer another stream of revenue for these creators as well. Fans can get custom advice from creators through DMs and 1-1 calls.

Lucy Guo

We hear your cats are rare. Can you tell us about them and how you acquired them?

Both were spontaneous. Sega is an absolute angel. I really wanted a maine coon and was googling them, found a breeder, and got him the same day! I had to run to Petco to get all the supplies in 15 minutes because it was closing, and I needed food/water/litter for him.

For Atari, a friend of a friend DM'd me saying he could bring F1 Savannah kittens over to play with. I fell in love with Atari on the spot due to his courage (most kittens are scared of new environments, but he was running around), and after a night of sleeping on it, I decided to take him. I couldn't get him off my mind the entire day.

During recess, you used to sell Pokémon cards and colored pencils. What would you attribute to having this "money-mindset" even from such a young age?

My parents immigrated from China with nothing. They had raised me from an early age to understand that money matters - but I also understood from an early age that we didn't have much of it. They wouldn't buy me certain things and I wanted to make money to be able to afford cool things.

What is the proudest moment of your professional career?

The proudest moment of my professional career would probably be the success of Passes. Succeeding in enterprise/b2b SaaS is much easier than building a consumer company. Passes is probably the fastest growing company I've been involved with from a revenue growth standpoint.

ONE33 Social celebrates occasions and occasion wear. How would you describe your process for choosing clothing for events? Especially for such momentous occasions like making Forbes' 2018 30 Under 30 list!

Outside of my mood, I think about the audience at each event. For example, at a rave I want to look edgier. At Forbes 400, I dress more conservatively.

Lucy Guo

What is it about ONE33 Social that drew you to the brand?

The dresses and jumpsuits are incredible. They're high end but not overpriced. I love that the brand is woman founded as well.

Do you believe in the phrase, "Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have"? Why or why not?

Yes. I think first impressions are made based on how you present yourself. If you look powerful, people will assume you are powerful.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to women in any stage of their career?

You might be underestimated at the moment, but use that to your advantage. Don't let it get to you; use the negative energy to drive you and prove everyone wrong.